Atras del Cosmos - Cold Drinks, Hot Dreams LP


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Label: Blank Forms

Atrás del Cosmos were a central force in Mexico City's creative arts community, and often considered the first free jazz group in the country. Founded by a trio composed of pianist Ana Ruiz, percussionist Evry Mann, and saxophonist Henry West, the ensemble was prolific in mentoring a generation of improvisers, cultivating an expanded additive roster, and organizing workshops in downtown Mexico City—including inviting Don Cherry to play and instruct on his "organic music" approach in 1977.

Between 1977 and 1983, the group lived and rehearsed in a residential space behind the Cosmos theater, hence their celestial-tinged name. But despite their central importance to the local scene, Atrás was rarely recorded and had a scant international presence, leaving behind just a single cassette before their disbandment.

Now released on LP for the first time, the aforementioned tape Cold Drinks, Hot Dreams is a red-hot recording documenting the core group plus double-bassist Claudio Enriquez performing live in 1980—a delirious improvisation with high peaks and low valleys, sucking in an amalgam of influences including New York loft style, Mexican folk music, and the surrealism of Alejandro Jodorowsky into its heady gravitational pull.

Ruiz's playing style is virtuosic and expressive, pulling off monumental chords and using the piano's whole register, recalling Cecil Taylor's percussive approach, Matthew Shipp's emotive voicing, and Duke Ellington's mystifying arabesques. Evry Mann dabbles in polyrhythms in tracks like the solo marimba meditation "Clapping Music II," and Henry West wails heavy in the show-stopping cut "M.D." Now finally available after forty years, the music of Atrás del Cosmos will be sure to stun spiritual jazz veterans and newcomers alike.